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Spotlight: Cincinnati

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Spotlight: Cincinnati

For my first installment in Spotlight Cities, I found it only fitting to start close to home. Elizabeth Johnson has been my best friend for the last 11 years, through middle part ponytails, purple eye shadow and grungy band tshirts, the girl has never left my side. Although we grew up only 20 minutes south of Cincinnati, Liz had the chance to live there while doing an internship for Duke Energy. Did I mention she’s a chemical engineer and certified genius? I think everyone deserves a Liz in their life, someone who encourages you to chase the moon but isn’t scared to bring you back down to earth.

Lizard, thanks for being the best support system and sister this only child could ever ask for. Here’s to many more adventures and raising hell in the nursing home when we’re 90.

When and where did you live in Cincinnati? I grew up in Florence, KY which is a suburb of Cincinnati (I live in Texas now and I tell people I am from Cincinnati, KY which would make people from Ohio mad ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) and then I lived in Covington, KY, which is walking distance to downtown, in 2014/15.

It’s Friday night, what are you doing? 

There are four big areas to go out / eat in Cincy: The Banks, downtown, Over the Rhine (OTR), and Mt. Adams. Each area has its own personality & offerings. The Banks is right on the river with your more typical bars & bar food, walking distance to the Reds Stadium, Bengals Stadium, and a cool view of the boats passing by.  Downtown offers some fancy eateries of all persuasions as well as some club-style bars. OTR (my personal favorite) has eclectic & specific restaurants that have mastered fun, casual, and delicious food & all the bars have their own twist (board game bar called The Rook, arcade bar called 16-bit are just two examples). Some of my favorites are listed below. Mt. Adams attracts a young professional crowd with dancing bars & great views of the city since it is up on a hill.

Best place to grab a bite?

I could go on for days about the food in Cincinnati, I never have enough time to hit all of the restaurants I want to when I am home. But some of my favorites are:

Skyline: This is a local staple, it is Cincinnati-style chili served on a hot dog with mustard & onions, or over pasta topped with a heap of the worlds best cheese. I realize I may have lost you at the spaghetti topped with chili but trust me, I craveeee this stuff when I am away for more than a week. It’s technically fast food (there is a drive through) but I recommend going in for the full experience. Go in and grab a table, enjoy the oyster crackers (top them with hot sauce if you’re feeling adventurous), put on a bib to protect your clothes, and order a three-way and a coney with everything, and don’t forget to grab an Andes mint before you leave. ($, very casual)

Montgomery Inn: BBQ, in Cincinnati? Yes, this place is incredible. They have many locations but my favorite is the Boat house right on the river. They offer unlimited ribs, pulled pork, and all sorts of bbq options. Their barbecue sauce is so good you will probably end up buying a couple bottles for your self on the way out. One of my favorite parts of this place though, is the kettle chips. I bought pounds of them for my high school graduation, they’re that good. ($$, can dress up or wear jeans)

Sushi is so good in this city, I don’t understand it either. Mr. Sushi is a good spot downtown.

Keystone: the place to be on Monday’s for 1/2 price Mac N Cheese (this place is good any day of the week but I like when things are 1/2 off). The Mac N Cheese creations are named after old, classic bands and it is just as good as the music they gave us. Get this stuff baked in a cast iron skillet with a local brew, there is no better way to get rid of the Monday blues.

My favorite Over the Rhine spots:

The Eagle: Fried chicken, great beer selection, and delicious sides

Pontiac: Known for barbeque & bourbon, & great atmosphere, I used to go here every Tuesday.

Senate: Fancy hot-dogs

Bakersfield: the tacos! the guac! the queso! the margs!!!! Everything here is good and you can catch an old western on the TV anytime.

A tavola: Artisan pizza made right in front of you.

Taste of Belgium: There are a couple locations through out the city, the waffles are delicious but so is everything else. Come with a big appetite.

These are just a few, walk down the streets in OTR and you will find anything that you were looking for. All of these places are $$ with casual dress.

Healthy, new spot: Maple Wood Kitchen & Bar. Come here for brunch, you will not be disappointed.

If you want something real fancy, any of Jeff Ruby’s steak houses will give you exactly what you need. The steak melts in your mouth & the service can’t be beat. Be prepared to bring your wallet but you will not be disappointed ($$$$, look nice)

If someone has 24 hours, what are the 3 things they need to do?

  1. Findlay Market (also has great food options!),  walk the streets of OTR looking in all the shops, and spend hours play the games (they are free!) at 16-bit.
  2. If you have kids or you are in to museums: the zoo, childrens museums, the art museum (free), the national underground freedom center are all amazing.
  3. If you like sports: be sure to go to a reds game, bengals game, minor league hockey the cyclones or our newest team, FC Cincinnati.

What would you recommend a young adult moving to Cincy?

Never stop exploring the different nooks of this city. It doesn’t seem that big but there is something new & exciting every week. Keep yelp handy even if you have lived there for years. Go to all the festivals and free movie days and yoga at all the parks, this city is bursting with wonderful young people who are looking to meet more.

Best place for a drink on the weekend?

Want craft beer in a cool spot? Cincinnati has got you COVERED. Want fun craft cocktails? We have that too. Want a cheap bucket of beer? You can get that too.

Beer: Taft Ale House, Rhinegeist, Braxton all brew their own. Any bar in the city will offer a variety of local craft brews & the bartenders are friendly are well versed so they can help you out on getting exactly what you want.

Cocktails: Igby’s, Wiseguys

Cheaper: Tin Roof, any hole in the wall will get you good beer, good food & friendly people

What do you think sets Cincinnati apart from other cities?

Cincinnati has transformed itself in the past 15 years, becoming a fun and exciting place for all ages. With good food, beer, shopping, culture, and some of the nicest people you will ever come across, I can’t recommend a weekend or living here enough. During the summer there is a festival of some sort every weekend, seriously. They have a festival for basically every type of meat, an UNREAL Oktoberfest, and over memorial day the streets are taken over by Taste of Cincinnati, giving everyone the chance to try the best food the city has to offer.

What makes Cincinnati so great is that there is always something to keep you busy, but you can always get some peace & quiet whenever you need. And I will never be able to say enough about the people, they are truly the best.


Thank you to Grant Moxley for the dope feature image of Cincinnati. To see more of his stuff check out or follow him on Instagram @g.mox
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